Franck Montagny Leads First Day of Testing for Forsythe Pettit Racing in Sebring Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson not far behind with top ten drivers within half of a second SEBRING, Florida (February 2, 2008) -- The 2008 Champ Car World ...
Franck Montagny Leads First Day of Testing for Forsythe Pettit Racing in Sebring
Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson not far behind with top ten drivers within half of a second
SEBRING, Florida (February 2, 2008) -- The 2008 Champ Car World Series season 'unofficially' got under way today in Sebring when Champ Car teams and drivers took to the track at Sebring International Raceway for the first of three pre-season open tests. The first day saw Frenchman Franck Montagny top the time charts aboard the #7 Forsythe Pettit Racing entry with a time of 50.788 seconds (118.304 mph).
The former Formula 1 driver for Super Aguri, who was taking part in his first Champ Car open test, beat out PKV Racing driver Oriol Servia for the top honors of the day by a mere 68 thousandths of a second. Servia was not only the first driver out on track this morning but the pilot that accumulated the most laps throughout the day with 117.
Close behind Servia was Newman/Haas/Lanigan's new recruit Justin Wilson. Wilson, who posted a lap of 50.927 seconds (117.981 mph), felt right at home in his new 'office'.
"It was a pretty good day," stated Wilson. "I was just learning to work with the team and learning the car. I think everything is going as planned, we will see how tomorrow goes but I'm pleased with what happened today."
Another driver that was satisfied with his day was 2007 Atlantic 'Rookie of the Year' Franck Perera. Behind the wheel of the #24 Conquest Racing DP01, the Frenchman registered the fourth best time with a lap of 50.986 seconds (117.844 mph) in only his second Champ Car test.
"It was an interesting day, a little hard physically though because since my last race in Atlantic, which was in August, I only did one test back in November but I should be good by the end of the test," expressed Perera, who is seen by many as the top driver coming out of Atlantics in 2007. "I'm a bit surprised to be honest, to be at the top. It's a new track for me, new people to work with and a new car. But everybody did a really good job to get everything prepared. The team is showing its potential and that it can fight for the top. However, today is only the first day and there is still a lot of testing time left, but it feels good to be with the top guys."
While Montagny may have been the driver at the top of the time sheet at the end of the day it was Pacific Coast Motorsports' Alex Figge that had the fastest time of the morning session. His lap of 51.097 seconds (117.588 mph) placed him fifth overall at the end of the day. He was followed by Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
"We didn't run new tires at the end, so when you look at it like that I think we were second or third before everybody put tires on," explained Rahal. "The track is obviously pretty good and overall our cars are performing well right now and I'm happy because I'm never normally near the top in Sebring so it's good for me!"
Canada's Alex Tagliani, who ended the day in seventh, was nearly speechless he was so happy to be working with PKV Racing and with his on track performance. "I'm ecstatic right now. I hadn't been in a car since November and in the morning session we were already third. Everything is going so well. This team is so professional, we're working on different set-ups for the car and they are very happy with the feedback I'm giving them. It's so much easier to work with a team when the chemistry is there right from the start and you don't have to build that up first. I think this team will definitely be contending for the Championship."
Rounding out the top ten were Bruno Junqueira, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, his fellow Brazilian also in a Dale Coyne car, Mario Moraes and Forsythe Pettit Racing's Paul Tracy.